By Jess Green
The Havre Blue Ponies spread the ball around in a 60-29 Thursday night win over the Chinook Sugarbeeters. Thursday night witnessed the last home game for the Blue Pony girls. For seniors, Samantha Velk, Nikki Baltrusch, Breyon Briese, LaShae Michels, and Alyssa Matter, Thursday night was the last home game as a Blue Pony.
Coach Dennis Murphy started the game with the five seniors and played them nearly the entire first quarter. The seniors played well together and outscored the 'Beeters 15-2 in the first.
Kelly Acra was the first to score as she put Chinook up 2-0 just one minute into the game. Coach Murphy felt the Ponies were not playing well and called an early time out at 5:54 on the clock.
"We weren't playing well," coach Murphy said. "We were playing complacent defense and did not have good personnel or ball movement offensively."
The timeout paid off. Breyon Briese hit back to back field goals to give the Blue Ponies a the 4-2 lead and the Ponies stepped up on defense.
The scoring continued when Nikki Baltrusch made a great steal and punctuated it with a picturesque lay-up with 3:46 left in the first. The Ponies got the ball on a rebound and Alyssa Matter put in in for three.
The Blue Ponies continued to press and at 2:06 Baltrusch was able to convert another great steal into two points. Both Amy Ranes and Jayla McPherson added a field goal before the end of the first.
The Ponies continued to pour it on through the second. At 6:27, Alysia Kato added a free throw to start the second quarter scoring. Amy Ranes added another two points at 6:11 and Alyssa Matter hit another three-pointer with 5:41 left in the second.
Chinook's Cecilia Moody ended the Ponies 21 point scoring streak by hitting a field goal at 3:55 and making it a 21-4 Pony lead. Shortly after, Kelsie Whitney brought the 'Beeters score to five with a free throw.
Samantha Velk sparked another Blue Pony streak at 3:33 by scoring for two. In the following two minutes Jeri Matter scored twice and Alyssa Matter scored once to make it 29-5.
Jennifer Baird scored for Chinook at 1:18, but Jayla McPherson scored and answered back just ten seconds later. Lindsey Erskine added a free throw for the 'Beeters to make the tally 31-8 at the half.
Although Chinook outscored Havre 16-15 in the third, the Blue Ponies owned the fourth quarter and outscored the 'Beeters 14-5.
With a 23 point halftime lead and a Friday afternoon game against CMR in Great Falls, coach Murphy made frequent substitutions and rotated the bench well in the second half against the 'Beeters.
"We were playing well," Murphy said. "It was an opportunity for kids who don't get to play much to go in."
Every player made a contribution to the win. In fact, every Blue Pony player scored points in the game.
"We have a strong bench," Blue Pony senior Breyon Briese said, "I didn't hurt us to start the seniors or to get everyone involved."
Briese and Alyssa Matter led the Ponies scoring with ten points each.
"Breyon had a career shooting game," coach Dennis Murphy said.
For the Sugarbeeters, Kelsie Whitney had ten points and Kelly Acra scored eight.
Among others who saw more playing time than usual was Julie Wagner, a 5'9" junior who plays on the JV squad. Wagner played a lot in place of Nikki Baltrusch who was rested much of the game in lieu of Friday afternoon's match-up. Wagner did well in place of the resting Baltrusch. She moved the ball up the court with ease and made good decisions with where to pass the ball.
"Tomorrow will be a tougher game," coach Murphy said.
Briese admitted that the game against CMR would be very physical, but that the Ponies did manage an overtime win against the Rustlers earlier this year.
While the younger girls' squads will see action against CMR starting earlier in the day, the varsity girls will play against the Rustler's today in Great Falls at 4 p.m.